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How to Use a Foam Roller (with video!)

Hello and happy Friday! By popular demand — today I’m going to show you how to use a foam roller. But first — let’s talk about yesterday’s run :)

I asked Matt if he wanted to join me for a shorter training run yesterday on a fun trail nearby. He agreed — but said he would only come if we went in the late afternoon so it was warm and he didn’t have to wake up early :) Deal!

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We met up with my friend Jillian and ran a speedy and very hilly 4 miles! This trail (“Carolina North”) is nice and soft, wide, and hilly, so it’s great for training. I need to come out here more often! Plus, it has fun little arm strength stations.

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(Sidenote — I can’t even do ONE pull up anymore. Argh! Last summer I was able to do one after all my LA Boxing workouts — what a bummer I lost it already! Need to ramp up the arm strength training again apparently…)

Anyway! We ran 4 miles in 35:14, for an average pace of 8:47. Not too shabby considering all the hills!

Splits:

  • Mile 1: 8:48
  • Mile 2: 8:44
  • Mile 3: 8:57
  • Mile 4: 8:39

And now, by popular demand — let’s talk about foam rollers. :) Here’s a link to the foam roller I own. I love it! For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, a foam roller is just a round piece of hard foam that you roll your legs (or butt/hips) over after running to help massage your muscles.

Altus Athletic 6-Inch by 24-Inch Foam Roller

Foam rolling after running (even short ones, but especially after my long training runs!) has REALLY helped with my half marathon training — it helps me to recover more quickly, avoid intense soreness, and avoid injury from muscles getting too tight and stiff.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to use a foam roller, so by popular demand — I made a little video last night of me using the foam roller after our run. Excuse my soaking wet hair — I always foam roll right after showering :)

Heh. Foam rolling on camera is awkward :) I hope you all found the video useful! As I said in the video, I’m by no means an expert, but that’s how I use the foam roller and it’s been working well for me. I usually spend about 30 seconds to 1 minute rolling out each area I describe in the video. I also sometimes foam roll my butt/hips, if they are super sore :)

Again, here’s a link to the foam roller I have — it’s only $17 on Amazon and SO worth it. I’d highly recommend buying one if you’re a runner and don’t own one!

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Do you use a foam roller? Have you noticed any difference in soreness levels, injury frequency, or recovery time?

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In other news, it’s supposed to be GORGEOUS and warm here today and I have plans to go biking with my friend Jillian after class, so I’m excited :) I’m trying out her extra road bike — she has two and wants to sell one of them, and I’ve been wanting to get a road bike! We’ll see :) Hope it’s nice out where you are today, too!

Comments

  1. 1

    I really need a foam roller. Thanks for this demo!!

  2. 2

    Anne, just wanted to tell you that Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point listed her blogroll (or rather a portion thereof) today and asked readers to comment on some of their favorite blogs. I, of course, gave you a big shout-out.

  3. 4

    I LOVE my foam roller!! I always get so many people asking me about it, and I was even telling my running partner on Tuesday night about it. So useful, and it has definitely helped me. Now, if I could only get my dog to stop trying to bite out chunks…

  4. 5

    I’ve been thinking about getting a foam roller for my marathon training, but for some reason thought it was way too complicated! Thanks for this video, you’ve made it look really straightforward! :)

  5. 6

    I just got back from borrowing one from the PE teacher at my school. How coincidental! Loved the video. I’ll try your tips! I usually only do my hip and thigh for my IT band issues. :)

  6. 7

    Foam rolling should actually be done differently when you find tight spots. Rolling is a form of self myofascial release where you roll until you hit a tight, painful spot and you hold it for 20-30 seconds to release the pressure and work out the “knot” in the muscle. This can be quite painful, but it us the true way to foam roll.

    • 8

      Thanks for the tip! I don’t have any really tight painful spots except for sometimes on my IT band area, so I like foam rolling more just to massage the muscles in general to get rid of overall soreness/tightness. But on my IT band I’ll definitely give it a try holding it still to release the pressure!

  7. 9

    Love foam rollers! I just got two for my PE classes- and they are a hit. I also use them as a warm up- to do before a run. It stimulates circulation in your legs and is a great way to get the blood flowing before you really start moving. Warm up and cool down in one- the foam roller!

  8. 10

    i got my foam roller at home depot and it seriously cost pennies! sometimes foam rolling hurts SO good!

  9. 11

    I LOVE my foam roller! Definitely keeps my IT bands from tightening up! I also bought “The Stick” which is AMAZING too! :D

  10. 12

    I have to be honest, I have always been a little intimidated by you while reading your blog. You are an amazing athlete and an excellent cook! Plus you are sort of doing one of my dreams by going to school for an MPH! I really enjoyed watching the video because it gave me a sense of your personality and you seem so sweet and personable. Thank you for writing this blog! And thanks for the foam rolling tips!

    • 13

      Aw! I’m very not intimidating in person, I promise! :) And I totally always think others are amazing athletes and cooks while I’m not… all about perception, I guess! :) Thanks for the comment!

  11. 14

    Hello! I just happened upon your blog and it looks like it will be added to my reader now! :)

    I LOVE my foam roller. I have some runner’s knee and IT band issues and it has been a lifesaver for me. I roll after every run and it has made a really big difference. I find that rolling a bit slower really helps massage the muscles. It can hurt a bit, but afterwards my legs feel so much better.

  12. 16

    I fell in love with foam rolling after finding one at my gym. I got one for Christmas too! I use it after every single run, no matter the distance, and haven’t had any injuries or problems with soreness.
    Fun video:)

  13. 17

    I have been debating purchasing a foam roller since I have heard such good things about them – and with marahton training I think it might be a must now!

  14. 18

    Hahaha love this video :) Way to drop some anatomy terms: IT band! Nice! ;)

  15. 19

    i got a foam roller for christmas and i LOVE it! it really does help so much with muscle soreness and recovery. totally work it! :)

  16. 20

    Agree with Carly #6 above. When you hit a painful spot, hold it or jiggle it there. I’m doing some PT for IT Bands now and it’s really important to roll! They recommend 8-10 “roll throughs.” I never used to count them before. Unrelated to legs, I like to roll my upper back on it. Feels so good, so much release!

  17. 21

    thank you for the foam roller video! I dont have one, but might need to get one since im training now.
    and thats awesome you have a running buddy!

  18. 22

    I’m intrigued by your 13.1 tee — what does it say!? :)

  19. 24

    I loooooooooooove my foam roller!! So much that I named it….Frank :)

  20. 26

    What an adorable video! I am in love with my foam roller. After a hip injury due to IT band tightness last year, I make sure to use it before and after all my runs. When I went to physical therapy my PT had me use a trigger point foam roller called “The Grid”. After I was done with my sessions I ordered one for myself because I liked it so much. I find that it gives a deeper massage than regular foam rollers. Since foam rolling I hardly ever feel pain after a run!

  21. 27

    Never used a foam roller but I hear great things about them! I need to buy one so I can try it sometime. :)

  22. 28

    I still remember the first few months of using a foam roller. I almost cried more times than I care to admit. Now I roll at least twice a week, and it hurts GOOD.

  23. 29

    I love my foam roller! I noticed such a huge difference when I started using it! I also noticed a difference after my second half marathon. The day after the second half I was barely sore. I’m pretty sure that’s due to my body being stronger/better trained and foam rolling. I foam rolled when I got back to the hotel and then I did it again after sitting in the car for four hours on the way home.

  24. 30

    thanks for the video on the foam rollers. I have one I use to stretch out my neck but have never used it on my legs!

  25. 31

    Thank you for this girl!! I still have to get myself one, are they expensive?

  26. 32

    Foam roller for life. Seriously, it changed my workouts completely….for the better.

  27. 33

    Love your video. did you get a new bike? I remember you saying that you are looking for one. Ooops, gotta go, husband just walked in, been gone for 2 weeks on bus. trip.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  28. 34

    Great video, but it’s actually best to roll in sections of about 6 or so inches. So, typically I break each part I roll into halves: roll the top half of your calves, then the bottom half, for example.

    Also important to note you should never roll over a joint. :)

  29. 35

    Great video, and will look into a foam roller. Looks like a great way to finish a workout…

  30. 36

    Thanks for such a great video! I love foam rolling and have definitely noticed a difference in knee pain and injuries since I started using one. Honestly, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon over the past couple of months, but this is just the inspiration I need to get using it again. It really does make a world of difference. :D

    Thanks!

  31. 37

    Sometimes I make my friends foam roll when they come to my house just cause it’s so great. Mine came with a little instruction pamphlet (I’m sure most do), but based on that I tried rolling out my butt. Um, who knew it could feel so good and that those muscles were in need of some rolling!?!?!? Haha. If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it.

  32. 39

    Great post! I have a foam roller and love when I remember to use it! It’s so awkward at first can make such a difference. I always wondered if I was doing it wrong …. the video was so helpful and I’m glad I’ve been on the right track!

  33. 40

    That was a great demo! Thanks!

  34. 41

    Hi Anne,

    I am so confused about how long to roll each area and how many times per session, how many sessions per day and per week etc. I have looked all over online and there are so many opinions on this. What do you find works best?

    • 42

      There’s not really any one answer to that question – I generally roll once per day as well as after any long runs. Maybe a couple minutes per area? Just mix it up and see what works!

  35. 43

    Just started PT for a lower back issue and they’ve been having me use a foam roller. I had seen you mention it before and thought, “Oh this is just for the serious distance people.”

    I’ve been learning from my therapist that legs are HUGELY connected (literally, LOL) to the lower back and lower back pain. Some foam rolling & a little hip flexor work makes an eye opening difference in mobility.

    So yes, I’ve ordered my own foam roller and I will be watching your video once it comes in. :-)

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  2. […] did another ice bath yesterday when I got home from the run, and spent some time with my foam roller, too. This morning, I enjoyed a nice and easy 30 minute recovery swim to stretch out my tired legs. […]

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